'Leadership sowing disunity' - Sexwale
Human Settlements minister and ANC national executive committee member Tokyo Sexwale has laid into the country’s current leadership, saying it had veered from the collective leadership that characterised past ANC leadership.
Delivering a Nelson Mandela lecturer at the City Hall last night, Sexwale delved into the leadership debate, highlighting the leadership of the celebrated former president and its interpretation.
Criticising factionalism, Sexwale said Mandela had a magnetism that saw him becoming the centre of attraction and a “rallying point of his people” – something that appears to be lacking in current leadership.
“The opposite to the magnetism of Mandela now rings true. It is the downfall of many people whose style and content of leadership is essentially that of sowing disunity. Such political leaders, contrary to being magnets that attract people, are destructive and can best be described as political grenades,” he said.
“Put such leaders amongst people, they always split them. Not so with Madiba and the leadership-collective of his celebrated generation, all of whom were driven by a sense of constant willingness and readiness to serve the people, not for divisive, monetary, corruptive, selfish, sectarian and factional interests.
“A leader must hold its people together. Ask yourself on which side of this road you stand.”
The minister – who was also scheduled to headline memorial site visits throughout the metro – had to wait as the leadership tussles in the Bay played themselves out with issues arising around the organisation of the memorial site visits.
The site visits, however, were postponed to today due to “unforeseen challenges” around the joint participation of “critical stakeholders”.
“There were certain challenges in organisation between the metro and the ANC, and I was waiting for them to resolve,” Sexwale said.
During the lecture, Sexwale said it was important for political leaders to take out of Mandela’s book and interpret his leadership teachings and apply them.
“It is totally pointless today to recite the name Mandela, inserting him in very sentence that we speak, seeking his autographs and photographs when little or no heed is taken of his teachings, when one has not understood the quality of his message of unity and non-racialism within the ranks of his movement and most importantly, amongst the citizens of the country he so loves,” he said.
“To what extent have we embraced his values of selflessness, sense of justice and courageousness, particularly in the face of unbridled abuse of power by those we have elected into positions of trust, who have conveniently forgotten that they are servants and not masters of the people?”
He said leaders should strive to lead “from the front”, where they would the first to see threats and opportunities, but simultaneously remaining close enough to the people to “stay in touch”.
“The challenge in this regard is the constant management of this critical distance between the leadership and the people,” he said.
“A wise leader, having identified threats or opportunities should anticipate that in the report-back interaction with the people, one is likely to be met with mainly three possible scenarios: those who will agree with your assessment, those opposed to it and those who are undecided.
"A leader should expect to be booed before being wooed, to be jeered before being cheered. Therein lies the strength and effectiveness of a leader."